Tyler City Council member Jason Wright is in a position of leadership in this community. The standard of caution for those in leadership, when it comes to choosing their words wisely, is set high. But that standard was ignored by Wright recently, when he spoke about food assistance programs at that Tea Party rally.
“It sort of reminds me of one of those signs you see in the national parks: Don't feed the animals or they may become dependent on those who feed them,” Wright said.
Many families have had to rely on such aid at times. And it has often proved critical in helping them through a tough patch.
Wright has made no public effort to clarify his words or to apologize. Nor has he contacted this newspaper claiming to have been misquoted. We have reviewed the notes of the reporter, and believe he was quoted accurately — though he might not have realized the powerful impact his ill-advised words would have.
Aside from any sentiment Wright sought to express, his analogy was reckless. You don't compare people who need help putting food on the table to animals.
A test of true leaders is whether they can settle issues such as this quickly, and can abandon poorly chosen words earnestly when confronted. Politically speaking, we don't see this as a fatal error. But it could become one if not addressed.
Wright's choice of words was both undignified and unacceptable. He should apologize and move on.